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Full text of "Mathura A District Memoir"

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ITS TWOFOLD CHARACTER.                                                3
been rendered much more manageable and compact. It is now in the shape of
an imperfect crescent, with its convex side to the south-west and its horns and
hollow centre on the left bank of the river looking upwards to the north-east.
The eastern portion is a fair specimen of the land ordinarily found in the Do&b.
It is abundantly watered, both by wells ar*d rivers, and is carefully cultivated.
Its luxuriant crops and fine orchards indie-ate the fertility of the soil and render
the landscape not unpleasing to the eye; but though far the more valuable part
of the district for the purposes of the farmer and the economist, it possesses
few historical associations to detain the antiquary. On the other hand, the west-
ern side of the district, though comparatively poor in natural products,, is rich
in mythological legend, and contains in the towns of Mathnra and Brinda-ban
a series of the master-pieces of modern Hindu architecture. Its still greater
wealth in earlier times is attested by the extraordinary merit of the few speci-
mens which have survived the torrent of Muhammadan barbarism and the more
slowly corroding lapse of time.
Yet, w$ely as the two tracts of country differ In character, there is reason
to believe that their first union dates from a very early period. Thus, Yaraba
Mihira, writipg in the latter half of the fifth century of the Christian era, seems
to speak of Mathura as consisting at that time also of two very dissimilar por-
tions. For, in the 16th section of the Brihat Sanhita, he includes its eastern
half, with all river lands (such as is the Doab), under the protection of the planet
Budha—that is, Mercury ; and the western half, with the Bharatas and Purohits
and other managers of religious ceremonies (classes which still to the present
day form the mass of the population of western Mathura, and more particularly
so if the Bharatas are taken to mean the Bharat-pur Jats) Tinder the tutelage of
Jiva—that isj Jupiter. The Chinese pilgrim, Hwen Thsang, may also be adduc-
ed as a witness to the same effect. He visited India in the seventh centnry
after Christ, and describes the circumference of the kingdom of Mathura as
5,000 li, i. e.y 950 miles, taking the Chinese li as not quite one-fifth of an English
mile. The people, he says, are of & soft and easy nature and delight to per-
form meritorious works with a view to a future life. The soil is rich and fertile
and specially adapted to the cultivation of grain. Cotton staffs of fine texture
are also here obtainable and gold ; while the mango trees* are so abundant that
they form complete forests—the fruit being of two varieties, a smaller kind,
which turns yellow as it ripens, and a larger, which remains always green.
From this description it would appear that the then kingdom of -Mathura
*The fruit intended is probably the mango, dmra; bat tlie word as given in Chinese is
&n»mo-lo*kof which mighit also stand lor dmlikd, the tamarind, or 4mfat the Phyllanthus emblica.